Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg Impression
This remake of the game that launched an international favorite seems ready to stir up some fun this summer.
We’ve got just a few weeks to go until the release of Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg, a remake of the first title in the long-running Atelier series. Atelier Marie was originally released for PlayStation in Japan in 1997 — with versions later released on Sega Saturn, PC, Sega Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Android, and iOS — and has not previously been released in English.
Fans and newcomers alike looking to read more about the series can check out RPGamer’s Where to Start? feature. Koei Tecmo and Gust gave RPGamer a chance to play through the first in-game year for preview purposes.
The game follows Marlone (also called Marie), an alchemy student in the city of Salburg who is at risk of expulsion due to poor performance. She is given her own workshop and five years to prove herself by crafting an item that will impress her professor. It does seem more cumbersome than retaking a few classes, certainly. She is given the keys to her own atelier in the village, and the countdown begins.
From there, Marie can explore Salburg, take on quests, and encounter villagers all in furtherance of her goal. It’s a busy town, as Marie can listen to rumors at the Sky Tavern, visit the Magic Academy for crafting books, shop for equipment, or even visit the castle. Within minutes, Marie recruits a friend and ventures out into the forest to collect materials and engage in combat. The gameplay loop is simple enough to understand: collect materials, synthesize items, and complete quests. These rhythms would almost verge on relaxing, if not for the timing mechanics that light a fire under the player, urging completion of tasks within their deadline or else run the risk of failing. A successful result yields money and an increase to Marie’s reputation; a late assignment results in little to no reward and a hit to her reputation.
In this game, nearly every action costs an in-game day. Simply leaving and entering the atelier takes up a day; traveling to locations can take multiple days; and an in-game day passes for every item collected whilst adventuring. Without careful and dedicated time management, Marie will be blowing past deadlines, to the detriment of her wallet and credibility. As a newcomer to the series, my first few deadlines were easily missed, leaving Marie rather broke.
In order to explore, Marie is best off recruiting friends or adventurers in town. These new allies can be helpful, but also expensive. Friends tend to be cheaper, but Marie establishes a rapport with her party during these excursions as well. Between the calendar and money management, it always benefits Marie to think ahead.
Combat is turn-based, with Marie and her mates choosing from command types assigned to separate buttons. There are both standard and special attacks available to each character, rounding out the battle system with some bombastic attacks and spells. It’s basic, but seemingly works well enough, especially when bringing along higher-level adventurers to help clear out new locales. Timing a thwack with Marie’s staff to initiate combat frequently results in a preemptive strike. Effective use of this strategy can mitigate some inevitable difficulty spikes when traveling to new areas.
All of these moving parts are buttressed by a very charming presentation. Major scenes are presented in visual novel style, boasting detailed artwork of each character that is juxtaposed with chibi-style 3D spritework. It’s somewhat dissonant, but the graphical styles are distinct and pleasant. The in-battle character models are simply adorable. They seem livelier, and coupled with inventive camera angles are more visually exciting.
While the preview ended at the conclusion of the first year, Marie still has four years left to get it right. The full version of the game will include a mode allowing players to continue on through a sixth year and beyond, as well as options for the original or remastered soundtrack. This remake of the game that launched an international favorite seems ready to stir up some fun this summer, bringing series newcomers and stalwart fans back to the cauldron for a refreshed look at the very first Atelier. Western RPGamers will finally get a chance to see what all the fuss is about on July 13.
Disclosure: This article is based on a build of the game provided by the publisher.